Friday, April 27, 2007

Trellis on public hair

Mrs Trellis is immediately on the case:
Dear Alan Titchmarsh, she writes, I admire the way you are not afraid to tackle controversial subjects like ladies' public hair, and it must make a change for you from talking about fertiliser and old castles.
I like to think that I am a liberated woman, even being Welsh and a Methodist, so I thought long and hard about what you said. and decided, although being liberated etc, that talking about women's body hair was not my kind of subject. Specially as I only use tweezers. So, do you mind if we talk about gardening instead? I have to say that my bush is in need of a good trim. [giggles] No, I really shouldn't...!
Yours, Mrs B Trellis, etc

Lasses' body ur

Last neet on t' telly there wor a porgram that I thought reet daft. Summat about lasses' body ur. I couldna see what the fuss wor all about. My missus got more ur under er armpits than thur is round a badger's bollocks, and I would be reet upset if she wor to shave it off.
This stuck-up London tart wor goin round axing all kinds o daft questions about why women shave thur ur off, and sayin as ow they shunt, an whose fault wor it anyway, an it wor men who wor to blame - as per usual. She wor a dark lass and I'd bet a wick's wage she's urrier than an orange utang unnerneath. Not that I give a tinkers dink.
Course they ad ter talk about, tha knows, ur down thur, which I thought wur a bit improper for a porgram goin out at seven of an evening when younguns an grannies might be watchin. Any road up, it seems thur's more ur on the barbers floor these days than thur is round ladies' doodahs. Its a funny owd wurld an no mistake. And thur thingies must get fur clemmed in the cowd weather.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Trellis on adjectives

Once again, Mrs Trellis is moved to take up her pen:
Dear Alistair Cooke,
she writes, I am so glad to see you are keeping up your Letter from America, quite remarkable too, you being dead, if you will pardon the expression. Anyway, I wanted to say how much I agree with your sentiments about adjectives. The only adjective we really need is "nice", as in a nice day, a nice dress, a nice wheatear, etc. Of course if something is not nice, you need to say it is not a nice day, not a nice dress, not a nice wheatear, etc. People only use other adjectives to show off, like that friend of yours who wore Smyrna slippers.
Well, that's it. "Have a nice day", as you Americans say, though I don't know what a nice day is for someone who is deceased. Quiet, I'd say, if you'll pardon the adjective.
Yours, Mrs Blodwen Trellis, Widow, retired

The Curse of the Impressive Epithet

For a number of years I worked with a man who was a master of the Impressive Epithet. He did not eat figs, he ate Smyrna figs. He did not wear slippers, he wore Morland slippers. At breakfast, he would offer you not marmalade, but Cooper's marmalade. And so on across the entire range of his possessions and habits.
And now, in the evening, well, the very late afternoon, of my years, I am once again assailed by Impressive Epithets. I used to look for wheatears, but now I must look for Greenland wheatears. The chiffchaff, a bird hardly big enough to warrant any qualification at all, now comes in Iberian - or is it Siberian? - varieties these days; when I was a sprog it was lucky not to be dismissed as a willowchiff. As for the Herring Gull, it's gone positively polyschizophrenic.
It's all getting too much for me, Doctor. I wonder: do you know of an outdoor hobby without too many adjectives attached?
PS It might have been a White Wagtail I saw this afternoon............

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Passing of Upper Right Eight

Upper Right Eight and I have been together most of my life. Upper Right Eight is younger than I am but I never treated him with anything but respect. I repaired him and capped him and kept him as shiny as is possible for something buried at the back of the mouth, but yesterday Upper Right Eight was wrenched from me. Another bit of J Allsop will shortly be part of a landfill site or a bag of Blood, Fish and Bone.
At this rate, I will run out of bits before long.
Farewell Upper Right Eight. You never were much bloody use as a tooth, and you certainly weren't wise or you wouldn't have let the decay in. But I shall miss you. For a while, anyway. Till the socket closes and my tongue stops poking about back there in the darkness.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Salutiamo al Duce!

Did I ever tell you about the time I was embraced by Fascists? Not fascists, but Fascists, except this was in Italy after the war, and they were called Missini by then, based on the initials MSI of the neofascist party, the Movimento Sociale Italiano.
It happened in the following way: I had an English class every Tuesday and Thursday morning at the Scuola Interpreti in Brescia. All the students were girls - and deadly attractive ones too - plus one older man, who turned out to be the owner of a hotel in Corso Magenta. He and I became friends, mainly, I think, because he needed an ally against this monstrous regiment of nubile teenaged girls. So, he invited me to his hotel at lunchtime for drinks and something to eat. When we entered the bar the first time, I was introduced to a number of men who, as it turned out, were regulars there. And the reason they were regulars there was that it was an unofficial meeting place for old time Fascists. Remember, the Partisans had won and they were in the ascendant. Fascists had to keep a very low profile.
But in the bar of the hotel in Corso Magenta, the Old Guard felt safe, they relaxed and they could say what they really wanted to say. I didn't get much of the dialogue at first - these were early days for me in Italy - but I soon learned certain "brindisi" (toasts) as we all raised our glasses to "I nostri fratelli morti nel cielo" - raising our eyes to heaven to let our dead brothers know we were remembering them. I was stunned, though, when I first heard the toast to Mussolini: "Salutiamo al Duce, fondatore del nuovo impero romano!" There were others, but time has erased them from my memory. Remember, it was illegal to say such things, so they were being very defiant, well, behind closed doors anyway.
The other part of my education about fascism was a guided tour of the Piazza Vittoria in Brescia, when my hotelier explained that it had been built on Mussolini's orders and to a design proposed by him. It was in the usual marble monolithic style, indistinguishable from the totalitarian architecture I saw later in the east bloc countries, designed to awe rather than to inspire. But what was special about it, my cicerone pointed out, was the there were only four entrances/exits and they, unlike the spaciousness of the square itself, were very small and narrow indeed. "In this way," he explained, "you can keep people in, or keep people out, with only a very few soldiers at each entrance." As far as I know, it is the only fascist piazza remaining in Italy.
So it was that in my early twenties, I had an education in communism at home and in fascism in Italy. It took me a while, though, to realise that in many ways they were identical. Totalitarianism is like that.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Stone Curlews again

Today, thanks to a sharp-eyed birder, I was able to enjoy the sight of a pair of Stone Curlews in a field where you might not expect them. A very rare record for my part of the world indeed. You will recall from my earlier posting that they are in the Burhinus genus, and are popularly known as "Thick-knees" because, well, because they have thick knees. According to Sibley and Monroe, compilers of the most recent checklist of birds of the world, there are nine specie in the genus, und zwar:
Burhinus oedicnemus Stone-curlew (Eurasian Thick-knee)
Burhinus senegalensis Senegal Thick-knee
Burhinus vermiculatus Water Thick-knee
Burhinus capensis Spotted Thick-knee
Burhinus bistriatus Double-striped Thick-knee
Burhinus superciliaris Peruvian Thick-knee
Burhinus grallarius Bush Thick-knee
Burhinus recurvirostris Great Thick-knee
Burhinus giganteus Beach Thick-knee
Not many people in Huntingdon know that (Neither did I till I checked S and M)
What I love, apart from the bird itself, is that we continue to call it Stone Curlew ( a name that describes its preference for stony ground and its wonderful Curlew-like call), despite the efforts of the BOUffoons to reduce it to the utterly banal "Eurasian Thick-knee". Some things are worth grumping for, don't you think?

Mrs T approves the ban on hunting

Show Mrs Trellis a stick, and she will get hold of the wrong end of it. Here she is again:
Dear Jacques Chirac, she writes, I am so glad to read that you have finally banned hunting. Apart from the fact that there can't be much sport in shooting frogs, I never understood your nation's enthusiasm for eating their legs. Nasty slimy things, frogs' legs, surely? Hardly what I'd call a gastropodic experience.
Also, I have always hated the thought of thousands of frogs stumbling round France every Spring with their back legs chopped off.

Cher M President, you did a good thing there. So it's a pity, really, that in all other respects you are such a wanker - well, that is, according to my late husband's opinion, and he knew a thing or two about THAT subject, I can tell you.

Yours, Blodwen Trellis, Widow of this Parish, Retired

Now what?

A couple of hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing. His eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his mobile phone and calls the emergency services.
He gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?"
The operator, in a calm, soothing voice, says: "Just take it easy. First, let's make sure he's dead." There's silence, then a shot is heard. The guy's voice comes back on the line. He says, "Okay, now what?"


Go on, smile!

April Sunset

The view from my garden, after a day of glorious April sunshine.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Mrs T in a tizz

It is not often that Mrs Trellis gets huffy. But on this occasion:
Dear Jonathan Ross. she writes, I found your last two posts quite unacceptable. The one about the poodle was disgraceful: it is clear that you are no dog-lover, or you would know that poodles never chase butterflies. Of course, they will eat one if it lands on their lip, but no self-respecting poodle would ever get up off its haunches to do anything so vulgar as to run after one. Poodles, as you clearly don't know, are aristocrats, descended from an undernourished talbot owned by King Louis XIV's Topiarist-en-chef, hence the funny haircuts. Don't ask me how I know this, but I don't need Wikipedia, thank you very much
And the one about fathers was equally outrageous. Don't you realise how much you owe to your father, including your speech impediment? My dad was a noble and wonderful person. According to my mother. Whoever he was. I only wish I had known him. At least, I benefited from his estate by securing a huge loan to help me buy Casa Croeso, my little Welsh haven which the late Mr Trellis loved so much, when he was sober.
So, please be nice about poodles and fathers is the earnest wish of
Your faithful correspondent
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Retired.

Do you hate your father?

During my early years, I hated my father. I was afraid of him. I wished him dead. Later, my hatred turned to cold indifference.
Briefly, towards the end of his life, we almost established a reasonable father-son relationship. He died in 1963.
I still dream about him. forty plus years on. Not bad dreams. Not good dreams. Just dreams. We are not connecting. It is as if there is an unresolved issue, and it is too late now to resolve it. So the dreams just keep recurring. And they will keep returning, I am sure, until I in my turn am laid to rest.
My dad, your dad, all our parents: they are fallible creatures. Try not to judge them. I wish to god I had not judged my father so readily.
If only he were here at this moment, I would give him a hug.
But, of course, it's too late. It is always too late. Almost always.

Don't mess with old scrotes

I find the following account very comforting:

A lady decides to go on a photo safari in Africa , taking her faithful old poodle Cuddles, along for company.
One day the poodle starts chasing butterflies and before long, Cuddles discovers that he's lost.. Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch. The old poodle thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep doo-doo now!"
Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap the old poodle exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard! I wonder if there are any more around here?"
Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees.
"Whew!", says the leopard, "That was close! That old poodle nearly had me!"
Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So off he goes, but the old poodle sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up. The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard. The young leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!
Now, the old poodle sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?", but instead of running, the poodle sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old poodle says.
"Where's that damn monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!

Moral of this story....
· Don't mess with old scrotes: age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill
· Bullshit and brilliance come with age and experience.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Trellis on flowers

Mrs Trellis enters the fray:
Dear President Ban Ki-moon
, she writes, I think it's wonderful that you can find time in your busy day to talk about wild flowers. I heard somewhere that you Koreans cook dogs in flower sauce, but I can see now how wrong that is. Well, the bit about the flowers, anyway.
Speaking as an amateur whoreticulturalist myself, I can tell you that flowers are my passion. My husband, the late Mr Trellis, used to say that I should have married a pergalonimum! Bless him, I think I married a cabbage. No disrespect intended. Just my little joke.
Well, I mustn't keep you, Mr Moon, I know you are busy trying to make all the nations love each other when all they want to do is to drop ayatollahs on one another. You should tell them to go home and grow flowers. But not cook dogs in them, of course.
Mrs Trellis, Widow, Retired

Floral tributes

Some species of flora and fauna are tokens of the health of the environment. One such is a flower called the cowslip, a characteristic springtime flower of unspoiled meadows. In other words a rare plant these days. We have three or four sites in the village where there are cowslips, but that is because we have deliberately planted them there.
This evening, I discovered, after more than twenty years of living next to their house, that my neighbours have cowslips growing wild and natural on their back lawn! Only a few, maybe a dozen at most, but all emerging from patches of grass which is quite different from the grass in the rest of the lawn. These flowers are presumably a relic from the time when the land on which our houses now stand was covered with unimproved grass.
Earlier today, while out putting up barnowl and kestrel boxies, we visited a farm which had spinneys with an abundance of bluebells growing among the trees, an indicator species of unspoiled ancient woodland. A glorious sight.
All in all, it has been a truly unspoiled day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Trellis on Berlusconi

Mrs T in fighting mood:
Dear Mr Berlusconi

I will be honest with you: I don't much like Italians. All that operatic singing and everything ending in -o: it's not a patch on a Welsh Male Voice Choir.
As to Italian food, well, as Mr Trellis, my late husband, wittily observed: "Who wants to eat a plateful of bootlaces?"
Well, I don't mean to offend, but that's my honest opinion.
Yours etc
Blodwen Trellis, etc
PS I hope they let you off. You have such a nice face, I can't believe you did all those things.

Soggiorno bresciano

It is September 1957. I arrive in the north Italian city of Brescia and am taken to my first lodging, a noisy hotel called I Promessi Sposi**. Everything is new and strange and I am exhausted and vulnerable after a thirty-hour sit-up train journey that has left me bum-numb.
It turns out that I am not the only one has been engaged to teach at the local Scuola Interpreti: there is also a venerable Goan who introduces himself as "Professor Vaz" and invites me to share his table at dinner.
We have dinner, I forget what, but what I do remember is that he advises me to dilute my red wine with water. Me! After three years of mega pissartistry at university, where I have drunk enough beer and wine to refloat the Titanic. But, confronted by elderly professoriality, I meekly submit and accept a great dose of aqua minerale in my vino.
To be honest, it's not a bad drink, and I always try to have such an adulterated glass at least once every five years in honour of old Vaz. But not tonight. Tonight I want it hard and direct and unforgiving.
**If you haven't read I Promessi Sposi, the seminal 19th century novel by Manzoni, don't worry: it's like not having read Dombey and Son, or Crime and Punishment in the original. In fact I did read it and was proud of myself for having done so, the way you can be proud of breaking the world record for swallowing a quantity of hardboiled eggs without vomiting. Me and Cool Hand Luke both.

Dai the Drill

I don't know where Mrs Trellis gets her energy from, but here she is again, jumping in joyfully:

Dear Camilla Parker-Bowels, Your note about dentistry brought the memories flooding back! My husband, the late Mr Trellis, had always wanted to be a dentist, but the thought of being called "Dai the Drill" put him off, so he became a Tax Inspector instead. Not so different really, is it?: it's all about painful extraction.
Anyhow, dentistry was always his first love, and he became a very proficient amateur with his own set of drills, cocaine, etc, and could remove all the teeth from a sedated jerbil in less than five minutes when he was at his peak (Mr Trellis's peak, not the jerbil's: I am not sure if jerbils have peaks).
And he gave me a fair few fillings too, I can tell you. Not that I needed them, but we have to indulge our hubbies, don't we, or they get all sulky, poor things.
I wonder, does Charles ever have a go at your teeth, or do you have your own private physicist? Myself, I am strictly NHS. Well I am now, since "Dai the Drill" passed over . Sorry, something just came over me.
Your obedient servant
Mrs Blodwen Trellis, widow, retired

Open wide!

If you are under 45, the following is not relevant to you, so don't bother to read it.
If you are over 45, the following is depressing, so if I were you I wouldn't bother to read it.
Now I come to think of it, there is no case where someone should read what follows. So there's no point in my writing anything. So I won't.
Man, that is a weight off my mind.
PS I have just come back from the dentist's, so you can understand if I am mildly unhinged.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I was like....

This is a posting from a teenaged girl's blog. Where on earth did this repeated use of "like" come from?!

Might not do anything. Might just sit in. Or I might go out again, to town. Suprise again. Might listen to my iPod. Yay! I love it when its charged. Its allmost 2 years old. And it has a message on the back. Saying Happy Birthday Kristie Love From Mam xxx When I got it I was like OMG!!! That was when like...nobody had iPods. Everyone was like, is that an iPod? And now, I went out with some people the other week, and my mates bf was like...That isnt an iPod. Its too big. I allmost weed myself laughing.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A riposte from North Wales

Mrs Trellis is not one to let an opportunity slip by. Here is her latest missive:
Dear Sir Prince Charles
, she writes, I know how busy you are, you being the Heir Presumptuous and all, but I cannot let your latest postings pass without comment, so please bare with me.
This thing about moths has GOT TO STOP. Forgive me shouting, but if you had had holes chewed in your knickers by the little blighters like I have , you wouldn't be so fond of them. I assume you have a Valet or a Chamberlain or someone servile like that to make sure your nethergarments never get savaged. Another thing: you never know where moths have been. Some of them have disgusting habits, like perching on poo. Goodness knows what the Health and Safety people would make of that.
With all respect to your Majesticity, Sir Prince, I really think you should stick to being nice to plants, although I sometimes wonder what they make of you, you being a Vegetarian.

A conjunction of Emperor Moths

This was a moment of great joy for my Emperor Moths: male above, female below.
Technical details of how they couple are not important. Also, I don't know how they do it: indeed, I have only the most general notion of how humans do it, geschweige denn lepidoptera.
Anyway, they did the business, there are hundreds of fertile eggs all over the place, and the two progenitors have now gone to their well-earned rest. Quite a shag, all things considered.

Only the one, but a good 'un

Last night, both moth traps set and hopes high, I could hardly sleep. This morning, just at dawn, I waded into the garden, wetting my toes in the morning dew in order to secure the traps so that the moths inside them would be safe from marauding Robins and Blackbirds in search of a cheap breakfast.
Later, I emptied the traps. It wasn't an arduous task. There was only one moth, and it wasn't even in a trap; it was clinging to the side. It was a new species for me. I potted it and then scoured the Field Guide in search of an identity for it. I later took it to my guru, David H, who gently steered me away from my misidentification and in the direction of the correct one.
It was a Muslin Moth. When I entered it in my notebook later, I inadvertently typed in Muslim Moth. I felt really bad about that. After all, it IS Friday and the poor thing should have been at prayer, not frazzling its antennae in a plastic pot. Don't say anything, please: I don't want another fatwa slapped on me.
Envoi: a curious fact about this moth is that the females fly during the day, the males during the night, so when they get together to do the business, Allah only knows.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A word to the wise

Ever ready with a wise comment, Mrs Trellis does it again:
Dear Ken Livingstone, she writes, I so agree with your assessment of today's youth: despite repeated complaints, our paper boy still throws the newspaper on the lawn instead of putting it through the letterbox. Bring back National Service, that's what I say. It never did my husband, the late Mr Trellis, any harm, except for smoking Woodbines, a habit he picked up while lying on his bunk at RAF Wyton for two years while waiting for World War III.
I didn't really understand what you were getting at with all that about glottal stops, but I am sure that you, being Mare of London, will find a way to make today's youth speak proper, and not with their mouths full neither.
PS Have you ever visited Ujiji? Maybe you are not into family history, though, you being so busy congesting London's traffic, etc.

Wha' ?

Reading young people's blogs is turning out to be a really depressing experience. So much angst, so much boredom, so much anger. And all of it expressed in language which borders on the illiterate. I just hope that these unhappy bloggers are not typical of today's generation. I am not sneering or looking down on these youngsters. My principal emotions are sadness and frustration: sadness, because we seem to have let them down during their upbringing; and frustration, because I can think of no way I can help.
Mind you, all this disintegration is as nothing compared to the universal adoption of the glottal stop by today's youngsters. "Wha' a lo' o' li''le bo''les (What a lot of little bottles) used to be a humorous way of characterising cockney speech. Nowadays, it seems, to have any street cred at all, you've got to talk like the Pearly Queen.
Well, fu' tha'.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

La Trellis tackles La Kelly

Dear Lorraine Kelly, How true it is that our lives hang by a thread! And how clever of you to remember the names of the three Fates. Athos, Porthos and Aramis, isn't it? Or was it Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo? I get so confused these days, what with VAT and SORN and CAP and trying to remember the Queen's Birthday, etc.
Yours, Blodwen Trellis, Widow Retired
PS I hope I am not being too personal, but I think you are showing too much cleavage. Not that you have much of a bosom, of course, but you can be SO provocative sometimes. My late husband, Mr Trellis, could never properly digest his breakfast after watching you for five minutes. Please don't be offended. I just wanted you to know the effect that an early-day cleavage can have on vulnerable men. Poor things.

Hey, Clotho, give us a break!

"If you have to choose between being intelligent and being lucky, choose luck." Discuss.
It's like one of those essays they used to set at school. Today, two strokes of luck made it a successful day for me and my barn owl colleague, Peter W.
On an impulse, I called a man who was said to be a maker of nestboxes. We met him and he turned out to be an excellent fellow, a maker of very good barn owl boxes at a very reasonable price.
Later, on an impulse, we checked one of our old barnowl boxes in a remote barn on land under new and unknown ownership. By coincidence the new owner was there and turned out to be very happy not only that we should continue monitoring the box, but also that we should advise him on getting more boxes erected elsewhere on his land. Synchronicity, isn't that what they call it?

Today, we also put up a replacement box in an oak tree that went up without problem in a record 20 minutes. A-frames on trees can sometimes take an hour or more to erect. Another stroke of good fortune.

And now I am sitting here "waiting for the other boot to drop". After such a lucky day, there has to be a payback time. Maybe I should just go into the kitchen and break a few plates in the hope that it will propitiate the Fates, or whoever arranges for us never to get too damned cocky when things go right for a change.
PS I am sure that the astute among you will have noted that the three Fates illustrated above are mis-labelled. I wonder who was the unlucky sod who made that booboo: I bet he had his life-thread cut pretty sharpish.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The nestbox article about bumblebees that I posted a few days ago had a link that didn't work. Sorry about that. I have amended it if you still want to pursue the bumblebee - which is better than having a bumblebee pursue you.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Trellis on Paxman

A rapid response from the indefatigable Mrs Trellis:
Dear Jeremy Paxman
I enjoy University Challenge and about 8 years ago even managed to almost answer a question, something about photons, or was it photosynsomething?
Well, be that as it may, I am concerned at your recent bias towards natural history topics. Some of us are not all that interested in birds and insects and other creatures that make a mess of your windows and eat pieces out of your clothing.
Why don't you do more questions about NICE things, like Princess Diana (I mean before she was dead). Also, Wales is a fascinating topic: have you ever wondered why the Welsh make such good teachers?
Also, nice films. I watched Shadowlands recently, and cried my eyes out: what a wonderful Welshman C D Lewis was, even if he did have a wardrobe fetish and married a non-believer.
Yours eruditely, Blodwen Trellis, Widow retired, 3 O Levels.
PS Who chooses your ties? I would never have allowed my husband, the late Mr Trellis, to troll about the place in such unseemly bits of haberdashery.

Moths again

Tonight I caught one of these in my actinic trap. Well, no, I didn't. But the time is approaching when we moth-ers need to be setting our traps to see what's about.
In the meantime, if anyone has a suggestion what I can do with 500 Emperor Moth eggs, I will be well pleased.

Stone Curlews

This evening, I was invited to join Mr D and Ms B to look for Stone Curlews, a stunning member of the genus Burhinus, often referred to as "Thick-knees". We arrived at the Suffolk site to be greeted by a whole slather of notices that said, essentially, Bugger Off.
So, we didn't. We tucked ourselves and our telescopes discreetly behind some conifers and surveyed the forbidden land. And found Stone Curlews. Amazing birds: just look at the pic.
Mr D also found a now uncommon little bird, Willow Tit, which he identified first on call from a distance of what seemed to me like several miles. This is a bird about the size of my big toe: I couldn't find it.
Ms B, refusing to accept Mr D's identity of another call as Tree Pipit, suggested Woodlark instead, and had her moment of glory too. I could neither hear it nor see it.
My moment of glory was getting through the evening without falling over or breaking anything. Thanks, Mr D and Ms B, for giving an Old Scrote the chance to enjoy a rare bit o' birding. And if you ever need anyone to get the cork out of a bottle of red, just ask me: the way I look at it, everybody has to be good at something.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,
Phew, what mad mad days I've had! >phew<
Nothing happened, cept I broke a plate. Seven years of bad luck for me >boohoo<
Nothing happened again, cept a woman came round trying to sell me religion. I told her I din't believe in that stuff, but if she ever wanted a plate breaking, I'll do it for her. Free. >giggles<
Phew, what a mad nother day! I broke the lawn mower and also went to the supermarket to buy a cabbage. In the afternoon, I sat on the patio on one of my little white plastic chairs. It broke. >grrrr<
Checked my bank account. I'm broke. >megaboohoo<

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bad karma for Mrs T

Dear Reverend Paisley
I thought that you, of all people, being a good Protestant, would have no truck with royalty (well, except for King Billy, him being Dutch and no threat), never mind Emperors. I don't mind the sex, but you didn't have to DWELL on it: if you were a widow, you would understand. I am too upset to write more.
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Wesleyan and Proud of It

Emperors again

A second male emerged, a scruffy looking individual, and, in the same hatching box, a splendid female, wings fully pumped up. Gorgeous! Look at her: look at the sexy pink suffusion on the wingtips. What a hussy!
What I did not know was that the scruffy male had already had his wicked way with her - not that I blame him - because she has been busy laying eggs ever since. She's up to 200 and still seems to be pushing, so to speak.
As to the father of the brood, he's not long for this world - just think, a couple of hours of passion and then you snuff it - so I put him in the hawthorn hedge to see out his days, or get eaten by a blackbird, whichever comes first.
This will be a short posting: you will appreciate that I have to get back to the maternity ward.

Mrs Trellis discusses rabbit stew

Dear Laura Bush, I am glad to see you share my interest in lagomorphs. The late Mr Trellis was very partial to rabbit stew, "Welsh Rabbit with Fur On" he used to call it, he was SUCH a wag, bless him.
Of course I had to skin them and gut them and prepare them and cook them and garnish them and serve them, but it's a woman's task to please her man, isn't it? In Mr Trellis's case, I knew the only way to his heart really was through his stomach, him not taking much interest in marital things, if you know what I mean, though he did say something very suggestive and unwesleyan to me on Llandudno Pier one very hot Sunday afternoon, but it might just have been indigestion. Does Mr Bush like rabbit too? I guess he has to eat all kinds of stuff, what with him entertaining foreign dignitaries and the like. Mind you, I don't envy him having to eat sheep's eyeballs and wossnames, tentacles, what those uncouth Berber people eat.
Blodwen Trellis, Widow, Retired

Die Tücke des Objekts

I woke up this Easter Saturday full of intentions to be a happy bunny. But once again I have been assailed by die Tücke des Objekts, the sheer bloodymindedness of inaminate objects:
-my Honda mower is now in surgery;
-last night, a plate exploded in the oven for no good reason that I could see;
-the back has fallen off my comfy kitchen chair, just like that;
-the fence has fallen over again,
I am sure it is all designed by Him (Her?) Upstairs to teach us humility. I am 'umble as Uriah Heep, Yer 'Onour, so can we please knock it on the head before I get really mad and join the Opposition?
Happy Easter.

Friday, April 06, 2007


Another gem from Mrs Trellis of North Wales
Dear Emperor Akihito
You might be imperially pleased to know that my late husband, Mr Trellis, wrote a haiku in praise of the Honda motor mower:
This machine
never complains
even when the
but it is
a sod to
He didn't write any poetry apart from that.

Torquing of lawn mowers

It's a lovely day. Birds are singing. Bees are humming. Grass is growing. Ah yes, the grass. I lugged my Honda mower out of hibernation, got it up on a bench (ouch!) and gave it a maintenance onceover, including removing the cutting blade thingy and resharpening it. I'm no slouch when it comes to tlc-ing inanimate objects, me.
Then I began to mow the back lawn. 'Orrible rattles. Arthritis, I thought, and carried on. Until a crash somewhere inside the guts of the machine gave me pause. I moved the mower, to find the cutting blade lying orphaned on the grass, no longer a part of its Honda parent. The thing is, my beloveds, when you tighten a nut, you have to really really tighten the bloody thing. My gentle torque had been nowhere near severe enough.
One day, when I grow up, I'm going to get the hang of machinery, women, digital clocks and videorecording. I guess it's just a matter of getting the torque right.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fundamental issues

Mrs Trellis definitely knows which way her a..e is facing:
Dear Elton John, I don't wish to be disrespectful, you being a personal friend of Princess Diana and all, but I do think you should moderate your language when it comes to talking about your a...e. Children might be reading this blog. Can you not find a more decorous expression for it? The late Mr Trellis always used to refer to his pompom, not that he had much occasion to talk about it. I imagine you talk about yours a lot more, you being a poofter and all.
PS I love your music, and I am only sorry that you broke up with Paul McCartney and the other Rolling Beatles. Still, I suppose you know your own business best.

A ragged-arsed lover

Of course you didn't know me when I was a ragged-arsed kid, but me and my mates, we had some times. Real tough guys. Street wise, we were. The world was our lobster.
Me and Deggy Davis and Titch Hayward, thirteen-year-old tearaways, were a force to be reckoned with in our little Shropshire village.
Do you remember the old church hall just up from Grateley's the Butchers? Where they used to hold dance classes every Wednesday night? Right, well, me and the gang, we had set up some fruitboxes that we could stand on so we could look through the windows and watch the girls dancing. If you saw Once Upon a Time in America, you know what I'm talking about.
My special favourite was Greta Smith: dark hair, flashing dark eyes, sinewy, unattainable. Oh my! They said that her mother was Egyptian, which was exotic enough for my fantasies. I finally went to visit her in Donnington, and was frozen out after only a couple of minutes. What did a diva like her want with a clodhopping village oaf like me? Hey, Noodles, I know what you went through!
I'm still working on a comeback, even though she must be in her seventies by now.
On the other hand, maybe I will just settle for an Ovaltine with a shluck of cognac in it and ponder on the might-have-been which is so much of an old scrote's life, me and Noodles both.

Times change

A belated contribution from Mrs Trellis:
Dear Archbishop,
As you well know, God said "Let There Be Light" and There Was Light, and I am sure we are all very grateful, but I can't help but think that putting the clocks forward in spring and back again in autumn is verging on the sacrilegious. I think you ought to say something about this in your next sermon, specially for those of us who have no idea how to change the time on digital clocks.
PS Don't feel bad about being a Nazi when you were young: it was all the rage at the time, wasn't it?

Yours episcopally
Blodwen Trellis, Methodist and Widow, Retired

And now, for the good news....

The best advice I was ever given about nature watching was to sit still, shapeless, and wait for wildlife to come to you. I have been sitting shapeless on my patio for the last hour or so, and it has been wonderful. A Robin feeding within a yard of my feet, Greenfinches noshing in the nearby plumtree, Blue and Great Tits zotting back and forth, Blackbirds and Dunnocks singing,
and, glory of glories, the Cock Pheasant walking around on the lawn for a while quite oblivious of my presence. Next to me, my Rosemary bush was alive with bumblebees and other inkies I couldn't put a name to, all a-hum and a-buzz.
And as if that were not enough, the first of my Emperor Moths has emerged, a male which stayed around just long enough for me to show him to my neighbours before he took off into the empyrean in search of nooky, bless him. The rest will emerge soon, and I will, of course, keep you informed.
So, "God's in his Heaven, all's well with the world", even if one or two little local difficulties earlier in the week conspired to poison my soul.
All right now, though. Hugs and kisses all round, folks, whether you want them or not!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Growing Old

My advice is: don't do it. It's full of aches and pains and disappointments. You are no longer an asset, you are a liability. You are no longer a pleasure, you are a problem.
This blog was intended to be a defiance of the onset of oldscrotery, but the taste of it has turned to ashes in my mouth.
If you want to go on laughing, you'd be better off clicking on the comedy category on YouTube. I am out of laughs right now.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Right on the button

Mrs T, right on the button as usual:
Dear David Bellamy
I think you are so brave taking time out from your busy schedule to design nestboxes for burrowing budgerigars. My Aunt Gwen had one, blue it was, but it couldn't talk: being a burrowing budgie, its beak was permanently full of soil.
PS I love your paintings: you Australian aborigines are SO artistic I always think, covering yourselves with whitewash and ochre and all. I bet you have a magnificent didgeridoo as well.
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs Retired

More about nestboxing

OK, it's a bit of a tease, but this is a serious design for a nestbox.
But a nestbox for what species?
As usual, there's that cleverclogs in the third row "Me sir! Me sir! I know, sir!" I wouldn't have been the cleverclogs in the third row, because it would never have occurred to me that this species needed, or would use, nestboxes.
It seems that there are various commercially-available designs, but there is no evidence that they work. Hence the ingenious DIY flowerpot design illustrated above. Here is another:Go on, you've guessed, haven't you? I will give you a clue: they can have white tails, buff tails, orange tails or red tails. Both the DIY designs above, and the whole discussion of how to help this species, can be found here. I can't wait to have a go.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Mrs Trellis and the demon drink

My instinct is to censor Mrs Trellis's outpourings, but I am just too soft-hearted. Once again, she hits the brass tack on the head.
Dear Gordon Brown, she writes, I was more than a little taken aback by your references to alcohol, you being a dour Scot and all. Both myself and the late Mr Trellis were confirmed Rechabites, allowing alcohol to pass our lips only for medicinal reasons, mostly in the form of a nightly port-and-brandy to induce healthful sleep.
I have relaxed a little since achieving widowhood, but I still try to keep my consumption down to two bottles of gin per week, except on festive occasions, when I think one is justified, in the interests of sodality - or is it sodomy? I'm never quite sure - to pour the odd extra tot.
Do give my warmest regards to your wife, Cherie. Does she get enough to eat? She looks a bit scrawny to me. Mr Trellis always liked his women meaty, which I am.


Balmy April afternoon: clear blue skies, warmth of the sun on my nose, birds singing, verdery more verdant than ever, and the daffodils as Wordsworthian as they can be, given that they are 12 feet below sea level.
So, what to do? I put my lounger on the patio, erect my little side table, place a fluted glass on it, and pour myself a measure or two of chilled Frascati. I mean, what else but chilled white wine would a gentleperson drink on such a day as this?
The problem is only that white wine gives me a headache. I am beginning to think that, for once, it is too high a price to pay for beauty. Sorry, Butch.

One of our operators will be with you shortly. Ha!

I have written to my Bank, my Building Society, the Inland Revenue, East Cambs District Council, the Department of Health and Social Security, and to all the Utility Companies I deal with (water, electricity, etc), to inform them of my newly-installed automated telephone system. If you think I have missed anything, please let me know.

Hello and welcome to the Old Scrote's automated telephone response system. Please note: calls may be recorded for training purposes, hah. Please choose from the following options:

To know if I am still alive, press 1
Thank you for your query. I am in fact dead and will never get back to you as soon as possible. Please leave your name, number, and a short series of knocks after the beep.
To get money out of me, press 2
Thank you for calling. Please choose from one the following options:
Hit songs of the Sixties, press 1
Favourite operatic arias, press 2
Electronic music full of cacophonous twings and twangs, press 3
If you are not sure what to do, press # and ring off. No, not *, I said #.
For all other queries, press 3
Thank you for having other queries.
If you are incontinent, cross your legs and press 1
If you are a chronic masturbator, uncross your legs and press 2
If you have lost the will to live, press 3, and an operator will fail to be with you shortly.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

It's all Geek to me

I am really pleased with my latest acquisition: a mobile phone. As you can see, I come late to twenty-first century technology.
Anyway, I immediately gave my mobile number to my friend, J, and waited for weeks to get a call from her. When it finally came, I was delighted. I was in the supermarket at the time stocking up on essential groceries (If you buy six bottles, they knock 10% off).
"Hi, J!" I cried, unable to conceal my excitement. "Wow! This is great! But, tell me one thing: how did you know I was in Tesco's?"

Patagonia am byth!

Mrs Trellis does it again:
Dear Arnold Schwarzenegger, I was shocked to read that you cannot remember people's names, you being a foreigner and all, and possessing the gift of tongues. I myself was bisexual as a girl, learning both English and Welsh at school. Sospan vach, etc, which means "little saucepan", not that I have ever had occasion to talk in Welsh - or English for that matter - about little saucepans.
They say that Welsh is spoken in three places: Wales, Argentina and Heaven. I suggest you try to do something about your memory, maybe learn a few Welsh phrases to drop into your election speeches. I am sure it will win you votes among your Patagonian constituents. Please give my regards to your wife Laura, what a wonderfully patient woman she must be.
Yours etc
B Trellis, Mrs Retired

A rose by any other name is a cockup

Fred Snape? Who? I don't think I....
Yes! You remember him! Fred Snape: skinny bloke, rag arm, spits a lot.
Not sure I ...
Yes, you do! His mother used to be a cab-hoss in Brummagem.
And if you couldn't identify Fred Snape after that, there was definitely something wrong with your powers of recall.
And this is serious bok, because recalling people, sharing memories, reminiscing are the stuff of human intercourse, the cement that binds etc etc. The conversation above is authentic, by the way. It has stuck in my memory these forty years.
Sadly, unlike Monsieur Peyrachon qv, I cannot remember names. My daughter had a mnemonic system that she tried to teach me. If, for example, she said , his name is Smith and he has a large nose, think of a blacksmith riding on an elephant. That kind of thing. Knowing my fallible memory, I would probably greet him with some awful gaffe like "Ah, Mr Trunk, how nice to see you again!"
As you can see, I am still suffering guiltily from the misnaming of my lovely neighbour, Angela. Or is it Alison? Damn.